Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Moral law is no product of evolution’

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Published: Thursday, Dec. 6 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

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Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

In those periods where doubts of God surrounded me, it was the natural world that testified of Him to me.

Hayden, ID

Me too Twin Lights, me too!

Huntsville, UT

"Another remarkable fact about morality is that it seems to come from outside of us, even above us. "

What utter and complete nonsense. A simple "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" creates an incredible sense of "morality". There is nothing "outside or above us" about it.

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

It's entirely reasonable that the principles governing human behavior have been discovered through experiences and deducted through the exercise of reason.

Aristotle rejected the theory that morality comes from some higher power that endowed humanity with a set of universal morals. Rather, he preferred a model of reality grounded in humanities distinct power to reason drawn directly from our experiences.

Morality is learned from our experiences through a chain of events that enables us to develop a set of standards and general principles that work to maintain an orderly society. Simply put, morality is the result of a set of rules that has evolved through trial and error...an approach to solving problems through a propensity to affect the survival of a host population.

The primary tenet of morality is rationality where morals become an application of the role of reason which subsequently results in a code of values that guide human choices as a means of survival. It's for the purpose of self-preservation that humanity has intellectually created a code of morality, not because of some supernatural law giver who would test someone's ability to obey a commandment with threats of punishment and damnation.

Hayden, ID

@ RanchHand. Just because you have failed to observe evidence of morality coming from outside or above us, doesn't mean millions of others have not. Failure to observe is the saddest of all commentaries about a mans life, especially when there is so much of it around us!

American Fork, UT

That morality exists across cultural and religious lines suggests to me that it well could be a product of evolution, since religion is totally subjective and does not demonstrate itself as being a necessary component of morality. Non religious persons, or those of wildly different faiths, can be moral. However, if one is to argue that morality is a product of an intelligent designer, it is a mighty leap of logic to believe it justifies the existence and imposition of your god over mine, or anyone elses.

The Scientist
Provo, UT

Once again, an amateurish, cherry picked mash up of context-less quotes from poets, philosophers, and theoretical physicists, trying to resurrect the teleological argument mashed up with the argument from morality.

Trouble is, if the Grand Watchmaker designed the universe to serve any purpose, Sandy as well as countless "acts of god", biological toxins, bacterial critters, and the like support the idea that the Watchmaker was either incompetent or determined to murder the human race in cold blood.

And it is peculiar for a Mormon to invoke the argument from morality when such an argument rests on the existence of an absolute, universal, unchangeable and objective moral reality that could not possibly hold if Nephi's assassination of Laban and if Jesus' coercive threats to destroy crowds of survivors (3Nephi) are considered "moral".

The morally bankrupt gnosticism of Peterson's assertions is evident and lethal to his argument.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

This article makes some strange and unjustifiable leaps in logic. 1st off, Peterson concedes that all the laws of physics were in place an “unbelievably tiny” fraction of a second after the Big Bang, but then goes on to imply a Designer of everything including our innate sense of morality. As far as I know Dawkins would have nothing to say about anything prior to the Big Bang – his point, and the point of science in general is simply that the laws of physics (evolution being an end product of those laws) are enough to explain what we see in the Universe, including us.

And most scientists and atheists would not deny the possibility of the kind of God believed by Vedanta Hinduism, Einstein or even the poet Browning. What they tend to not believe in is the childish old-man-in-white-beard who waves a magic wand (suspending the laws of physics) every time he wants change something in the Universe. What they typically say is “there is no evidence that such a being exists.”

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Morality is a learned disposition acquired from associations with fellow creatures of our own species. The divine force we loosely call God might be a creature of human imagination but what a powerful concept it is and with such irrepressible force. Even if it’s the evidence of little more than human yearnings, the need to know and understand who and what we are does distinguish us as a species. What drives us to excavate fossil remains of creatures who walked the Earth a hundred million years ago. Why do we contemplate these fellow earthlings of times past with such a sense of awe and wonder?

I have fond childhood memories of sitting on the grass on summer evenings with my brother and sister as Dad pointed into the night sky showing us how to locate the Big Dipper and other constellations. He would explain that it took millions of years for the light from the stars to reach Earth. He’s no longer with us but as I recall those memories it’s almost like having what we call a transcendental experience.

Saint George, UT

Ranchhand, you seem to believe that everyone has some sort of moral compass that says murder is wrong and torturing kittens is not good, and that "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" will create this community of believers that will make the world whole and wonderful, without God,of course. This rationale "is utter and complete nonsense." Without God, there is no moral compass, no community of values. Both Hitler and Stalin were quite comfortably "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you." Or course, it had to be pointed out to them with a rather pointed sword that they were wrong. In the meantime, men and women can go on living in a naive and delusional state that "everyone" surely knows what is right and wrong without God. Ask the tortured kittens about that one. They certainly don't want to wait until "community" values kick in! As Dostoevsky said, "If there is no God, everything is permitted." Being naive is no excuse for ignorance of what human nature is capable of without God.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Tyler D

I too do not believe in “the old-man-in-white-beard who waves a magic wand (suspending the laws of physics) every time he wants change something in the Universe.”

The Scientist

Let’s deal with the “Grand Watchmaker” later. As to morality. What allows such things as death in the Bible or BOM is understanding that birth is not the beginning and death is not the end. In that context, the morality is more understandable.


Agreed that “Non religious persons, or those of wildly different faiths, can be moral.” But in most cultures, it is religion that is the source of morality. Let that culture go a few generations without religion and the morality dwindles.

Weber State Graduate

Reason is a powerful tool but it is a cold light - lacking the warmth that endows human morality with more than just logic. If left to reason alone, could we not easily justify many acts that we now consider immoral? I think most of us could.

I do not obey because of threats. Most I know do not.


Yes it does. Who was it who said that?

Coach Biff
Lehi, UT

I just love the viscious attacks on Dr. Peterson by atheists and self named anonymous posters on an article in the Religion section of this website. It just testifies to me that those who are commenting on here are so insecure in their beleifs that they feel compelled to bloviate in opposition in order to fill some measure of what they lack. Astounding.

layton, UT

RE: Twin Lights, it was the natural world that testified of Him to me. True,

General Revelation, Atheists claim that there is not enough reason to believe God exists. Romans 1, Paul proves otherwise. All men see God in creation but suppress the evidence in sin. “noetic effects of sin.”
Paul is not saying that the human faculty for thinking is destroyed by sin.” The non-Christian can know some truth. If the faculty to reason was destroyed, truth could never be known and God could not condemn people for denying it.

RE: Craig Clark, Original Sin,:.. every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. Gen 8:21;. Behold, I was sharpened in iniquity; in sin did my mother conceive me. (Ps 51:5)..
C.S. Lewis ,”I think we probably differ about the meaning of creation. I take it to mean, to cause to be, with-out pre-existing material, to cause both form and matter of something pre-conceived in the Causer’s thought which after creation, is other than the Cause. Aseity.

Even J.P Sarte understood. “The finite makes no since without the infinite.

Hayden, ID

I can't believe that all I have learned, all I have experienced and all that I have loved in my life have no meaning, no purpose and are "accidents" which is the case if you are an atheist. I can not imagine anything more discouraging, more disheartening and more bleak. If these things do not belong to me forever, what are they for? Nothing? Can't comprehend living and thinking like that.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

Twin Lights
“I too do not believe in “the old-man-in-white-beard who waves a magic wand (suspending the laws of physics) every time he wants change something in the Universe.”

But isn’t this precisely the sorts of events (miracles) we read about in the Bible? And how do explain the fact that while these things seemed to occur on a regular basis in the Iron Age, there is no credible evidence that the laws of nature have ever been suspended in modern times?

Coach Biff

I’m sorry you feel this way. Speaking only for myself, I meant nothing malicious and certainly don’t feel insecure about following logic and evidence wherever it might lead. Perhaps you are projecting some of your own feelings onto others.

As to why I commented on this article, I simply believe in (and enjoy) conversation and the marketplace of ideas. And frankly, living in an information bubble of like-minded people is not only boring but somehow feels un-American. Our democracy was founded on dialogue and we shouldn’t fear it.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Look at humans, chimpanzees and bonobos monkeys. The DNA is so similar. Humans and Chimpanzees are violent, to the point of killing one another.
The Bonobo monkey, looks almost identical to the chimpanzee but are not violent with one another. Chimps and Bonobos evolved in the same part of Africa, only separated by a wide river. Bonobos evolved peaceful genes while the common ansestor of humans and chimps evolved with a violence about them.
It would appear morals are indeed evolved.

Orem, UT

It's absolutely amazing to think of all the details and arguments and issues and objections that Peterson didn't address, and all the contexts he didn't provide, in this enormously long article of his. The man had almost 740 words to work with!

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


C.S. Lewis ,”I think we probably differ about the meaning of creation. I take it to mean, to cause to be, with-out pre-existing material...."

"The elements are eternal" (D&C 93:33).

"There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter." (D&C 131: 7-8)

What's the mathematical probability that when Einstein postulated the equivalence of matter and energy (E=MC2), he might have been channeling Joseph Smith at the expense of C.S. Lewis?


I am an engineer. I understand both the necessity of data and the danger of wresting false conclusions from data. I was atheist for many years until I learned that I wasn’t rejecting God, but rather rejecting the many falsehoods I had heard about God. I learned how to commune with God, and how to experiment with the Word of God and feel it enlarge my soul. I have conducted the experiment thousands of times over many years, and I cannot refute the data. My faith is not blind, but seeing. It is a discovery that must be first-hand, but it is available to any who sincerely desire to know if there is a God.

Portland, OR

If biblical God is our ultimate arbiter, then how does one explain social order and morality within societies where there is no belief in God? How can one explain the beautiful works created by those who are not religious? And why is it necessary to have such a belief in order to be a kind, caring, responsible and productive member of a society?

The Bushmen of the Kalahari are among the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa where they have resided for at least 20,000 years. Given the often inhospitable environment, this is truly amazing. And these people have avoided the many societal ravages which have plagued the planet for centuries. They are one of the oldest, if not the oldest peoples in the world. They have no church, no Holy texts, no God of Abraham.

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